When a plane starts a rapid descent, the oxygen masks come down. The airline staff always say you should take care of yourself first, and take that oxygen mask for yourself.
But what does this have to do with business?
It starts with understanding a little bit of neuroscience. Brain anatomy teaches us that there is an amygdala or Lizard Brain - an ancient brain structure - that creates a "threat or reward" or "fight or flight" response to events. The main task is to protect ourselves by sending a warning signal when the environment is potentially dangerous. This powerful mechanism overlaps with the conscious processes in our brain. The lizard brain is hard to tame, especially if you are unaware of it. When a mind is in alarm mode, it is scarcely able to focus on being present, let alone analyse and search for a solution.
Now consider the last six months from the perspective of your lizard brain. In addition to malware which is creating a threat response, there is also the current situation with COVID, isolation, a need to plan your food for the day, being in the same room with the same people for weeks on end, or just being lonely, or just missing your favourite coffee from the coffee shop you used to go on the way to the office. Everything has been testing your well-being and has been creating a threat response.
How does a threat response impact a business's efficacy? Directly. If your nature is busy surviving in an ocean of negativity and threats, you are unable to work. A person being in the threat response state is scarcely able to innovate, create, solve problems.
Well.... Does your job require you to be a creative out-of-the-box thinker? If so, your business is at risk.
Now imagine, that it was not a single employee who was at risk, but the entire company. It is a real threat that poses real risks for the business. That's why well-being programs have skyrocketed in popularity from luxury perks to mandatory workplace activities. Some companies are hosting workshops and presentations to increase awareness; others provide office furniture, mental health support programs, online yoga classes, meditation workshops and so on.
When people are dealing with stressful situations, the idea of putting yourself first is not new and supported by an extensive literature. Almost every day, one can find a blog or an article on this topic. But still, we find people who are not convinced. So many of us are confronted by all these "Do" s and "Don't" s. Too much information causes information overload and resistance. The idea of putting yourself first becomes harder to sell. In the workplace, some employees are also questioning whether it is a genuine policy to take care of yourself, or it is just to show that the company is abiding by their stated values of putting people first. One of my clients once said, "Amid so many redundancies on the market, it's obvious that only the most hard-working people will be kept." Sounds reasonable…and you may feel this person's stress level rising.
However, working hard does not require a 14-hour workday. Neuroscience says that it's impossible for anyone to focus on tasks for 8 hours, let alone 12, or 14 hours at once. It's also counterproductive to do a few tasks at the same time. It